After last week’s time savers, I thought I’d dig deeper to come up with some more tips.
And also share some ideas from the comments. A big thankyou to everyone who contributed. Who knew that so many people were freezing cooked rice?
If there’s anything else that you do to save precious minutes in the kitchen please share with us.
1. plan to have leftovers
I can’t believe I didn’t include last week. I’m always a big fan of leftovers. Sometimes I just make extra and freeze for future use. Other times I reinvent the leftovers as another meal. So Sunday night’s extra lambshanks that were originally served with good old mash, get shredded and mixed with their rich tomatoey onion sauce for a lamb ragu with pasta on Monday.
2. rinse and reuse equipment as you go
I used to hate the concept of cleaning as you go as I preferred to concentrate on the cooking task at hand. But over the years I’ve realised that it can actually be quicker to rinse that bowl or spoon in front of you rather than reaching to the cupboard for a clean one and it definitely saves on cleaning up time – my least favourite part of playing in the kitchen.
Like pretty much all activities practice makes perfect – the more often you cook, the quicker you’ll become.
4. boil water in the kettle first
If I’m short on time I always put water in the kettle to boil for pasta or whatever else I need. So much faster than the stove top.
5. roughly chop herbs, don’t pick their leaves
While it is lovely to have whole picked leaves, if I’m in a rush I just roughly chop things like parsley or coriander. Still delicious and less wasteful.
6. cook with gas
I do love the instant heat of gas. Although after being wowed by Tetsuya’s new masterclass kitchen, I do have a hankering for a clean induction cooktop which has instant heat with the added benefit of being super easy to clean.
7. use a fan forced oven
I’ve been spending a bit of time at my brother’s lovely new house in the country this year and I have to say his fan forced oven cooks things significantly more rapidly than my sad old gas number in Sydney.
[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
mussels with leeks & chilli
Inspired by the lovely Miss Reaneybean.
I got addicted to moules frites when travelling in Belgium years ago. It became my staple lunch. For a girl from the country mussels seem so exotic – it was hard to get used to them being common place.
I’ve recently discovered pot ready mussels at the fish market which come packed live and are scrubbed, debearded and ready to cook. They last for a few days in the fridge. I Iike to pick up a pack when I’m getting some other fish and have a simple dinner of mussels the next night. A word of warning though. The first time I used them I thought it would be a great idea to add the liquor in the pack to the mussel pot. Not such as great idea as it turned out. Super salty and overpowering my sauce and the mussels. I am now careful to drain the mussels before adding to the pot.
The secret to cooking mussels is to treat each one as an individual. When the first mussels have opened pop them in a prewarmed bowl to wait while you keep cooking their more hardy sibblings. Saves having some mussels just cooked and others rubbery and tough.
Remember the rule with mussels is that if they don’t open during cooking, they’re not good to eat.
1 leek, white part finely sliced into rings
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced
3-5 large red chillis, halved lengthwise
1/2C dry white wine
1kg mussels, scrubbed & debearded
Cook leeks in 2T olive oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir occasionally until leeks are meltingly soft.
Add chilli and garlic and cook for another minute.
Increase heat to high, add wine and bring to the boil. Add mussels and cover with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes.
Give the pot a shake and remove lid. Fish out any opened mussels and place in a large bowl. Cover the pot and keep cooking for another few minutes. Shake and again remove any opened mussels. Discard any that haven’t opened at this stage and return the opened mussels to the pot to warm through.
Divide between 2 bowls. Great with some crusty bread or even some hot salty fries.
Another quick and easy meal. Thanks. I really love mussels in a hearty tomato based sauce. I like your approach to cooking. It doesn’t always take 20 or so expensive ingredients to make an awesome dish.
Love those fish market packets of mussels – discovered them in January which of course meant we had to feast! In terms of time saving things, I suppose the thing I do most regularly is set aside as much of a day as I can to make batches of things that can be frozen – like a hearty sausage pasta sauce and then freeze portions. If you’ve already planned a day at home then you may as well have something cooking!
Love the mussel recipe Jules: my all time favourite dinner!
Wish we could get the pot ready kind here, at the moment a mussel dinner is a half-day production!
Regarding your number two time saver – this is something I have been doing for years. I try to look positively upon rinsing and reusing. When I am having a big cook up, I tend to have a sink with hot water in it for this very reason; this way I am not constantly turning the tap on and running water. I am a big believer in moving in the kitchen and I embrace every bit of exercise I can; so for me this is no biggy.
I haven’t ever tried a tomato based mussels dish – will keep it in mind.
love the way your mind works. you’re so right – if you’re at home you may as well have something simmering away
I feel your pain – mussels scrubbing is definitely a labour of love
great idea to have a hot sink on the go – quick and water saving – love it
I love cooking with gas but I had an excellent fan forced oven in my last place and it was twice as fast as my old gas one here so I know what you mean. And I am all for leftovers – it helps with making more complicated dishes but in a few steps and keeping meals interesting
Great tip about treating the mussels individually, why didn’t I think of that? It will save me from rubbery mussels in the future, thank you!!
I am not sure that leftovers is the right term. For me much of the joy of cooking comes from following strands of thought so a ham hock = brilliant simon hopkinson ham and lentils + ham stock = pea and ham soup or maybe risotto and soon we have a whole week of meals streaming from one idea and the first meal is only the first step.
We in the Northeast of the Americas get our best mussels from Prince Edward Island in Canada. As a Canadian I have enjoyed this all my life … Yes great care and tender cooking will give the experience of a most enjoyable event. Too many times have I been to sit down to one of my favorites and been disappointed even to the point of not (can’t) swallow this. With the care of treating mussels individually as you have suggested … bliss … great flavour and I love it … Jacques Pepin is a great teacher here … I revere him and his most generous gift to show us techniques which move us to be a better chef. Both Jacques and Julia are my go to for definitive no-nonsense skills we can use everyday in the kitchen …
Oh … bye the bye … St. Pat’s is here (almost) … what have you got planned …???
I’ve recently heard a new name for using leftovers. It’s called morphing. As in morphing one meal into a new and different one. Sounds so 21st century!!!
What is your opinion of freezing fresh herbs such as tyme, basil,parsley, rosemary, etc? So often I buy some of these fresh herbs and I don’t use them all right away and they seem to spoil more quickly than expected?
Hi Jules, Love my mussels – I was always told no to eat unopened mussels until I dined at a Naroma and the chef said it was safe to eat their unopened mussels. I have search the net and found the following link the most ‘practical’ answer.
Also re your marketing, each time I revisit Hudsons and spend lots of money, I mention your name and draw a blank look….also maybe some food matching on Greg’s winefront, I am sure it would drive traffic. Looking forward to your next post.
I adore mussels any which way (they are only $5 a kilo at my local market!). Absolute favourite is Spanish style – onions, fennel, chilli, tomato and white wine.
As for time saving? The kitchen is my time to relax, so bring on a glass of wine and a long evening in front of the stove.
Good tips. Quite often if I’m visiting friends with kids or if they are coming over I love to make cookies for them. Recently I discovered the cookie log, find a good recipe, make a huge batch, then freeze sections. Then when you need them all you have to do is take them out of the freezer, slice into cookies & bake.
I do the boil water in the kettle trick too. And I also make double quantities of cookie dough and freeze half in logs for an instant ‘home made biscuits’ treat another day. We are not good with left overs though and they usually end up going to the dog and chooks after a few days of languishing in the fridge. An unusual one is a jar of golden fried onion that I store in the fridge. My mum actually makes up a whole batch and gives me some. It is great for a quick start to a curry or anything that needs well fried onions and/or a flavour boost. No chopping of onions and waiting for them to get to the golden stage. I just throw some into the pot with a bit of oil and the meat or whatever I need to seal/brown.
I love mussels too! Great photo! Love the way the light plays on the mussel shells.
Re #4 I love that Australians also realize that a kettle is something you plug in not put on top of the stove. I just discovered your blog – beautiful photos – nice.
thanks G! where would we be without the humble (plug in) kettle.
thanks shari – it’s one of the things I love about mussels – they’re just so beautiful
ange – great idea with the cookie dough – although it could be dangerous for me – have a serious raw cookie dough fetish.
spice & more – loving the idea to fry up a big batch of onions – gold!
I know how relaxing time in the kitchen can be – but unfortunately it’s a luxury for most during the week.
mark b – i haven’t told the hudsons boys about my blogging so that’s probably why you’re getting a blank. thanks for the tips
I’ve frozen herbs in the past. For things like rosemary & thyme I find it works well. have had less success with the soft herbs. I tend to make a batch of sicilian ‘pesto’ that uses basil, mint, coriander, parsley or whatever else I have lying around. the other thing is to make herb oil with leftovers.
nancy p – love the name morphings – although that’s what they call the petit fours at elBulli – so for me it will always mean the most amazing chocolate selection ever.
no particular plans for paddys day this year – was in melbourne and had a really amazing dinner but nothing particularly irish
you’re right – it keeps things interesting
I love leftovers too! Some dishes make better leftovers than others, though…and what I love to do is cooking some pasta or noodles in leftover stew (or other dishes with sauce) while reheating them. The pasta/noodles become really full of taste! (you can add water if the sauce is too thick)
If I know I’m going to be making a dish later I do all the prep in the morning, I find that saves me a lot of time. Your time saver tips are very helpful and I can’t wait to try this recipe out, thanks for posting!
WP – wouldn’t have thought to cook the pasta in the sauce – interesting. thanks for the idea
pleasure patty – you must be very organised to do your prep in the morning – I find I usually have less time in the mornings than in the evening
Great tips! I especially love “rinse and reuse equipment as you go”, which is definitely my modus operandi. I would get so frustrated when my ex-partner would cook dinner, and leave a horrifying mess of destruction in his wake! I would dearly LOVE to cook with gas, oh how badly I would, but the owners of my apartment do not share my enthusiasm.
My all-time favorite time saving tip is “Read the Recipe Twice!” Initially this tip might look like a time-waster, but those extra few seconds of recipe reading have saved me from countless kitchen screw-ups. Keep it going Jules!